We wanted to try out a different route to Mount Baden-Powell, so we decided to start our hike from Dawson Saddle. It adds a little bit of extra mileage, but there are really great views along the route because much of this hike follows along the ridge once you reach the junction for the PCT. It's also less heavily trafficked then the route up from Vincent Gap. Since Baden-Powell was added to the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge, it's become increasingly popular. We actually only planned on hiking to Baden-Powell, but we had the time and decided to go up to Mount Burnham and Throop Peak which were close by. I should note that all of my photos were taken with my Android phone today. Somehow I managed to forget my camera which was a big disappointment because I love doing my photography along the way. I really enjoyed this route and trying out a new trail. After the hike we drove into Wrightwood for a bite to eat. On the way we passed by the trailhead at Vincent Gap and it was mobbed with cars! I couldn't believe how crowded it was. I was grateful we didn't go up that route today. Looks like we'll need to save the Vincent Gap route for a weekday when it's less busy. Baden-Powell is a lovely peak. It's also nice to say hello to the 1,500 year old Wally Waldron limber pine that sits on the ridge just below the summit. I'm sure he was pretty popular for photos today! It was another great day to be in the mountains!Read More
This was our second time hiking up Mount Baden-Powell from Vincent Gap. It’s a challenging 7.08 mile roundtrip hike with an elevation +/- of 2,907’ according to my GPS. I was really excited to try this one again. The first time we did it in July it seemed a lot harder and longer. I also wasn’t used to being up on high mountains with precipitous drop offs. I remember the first time I looked over the side of this one I nearly had a heart attack. Now that we’ve gained more experience, the hike to the summit was easier, went faster (41 switchbacks and yes… I was counting them as we hiked) and I’m now able to enjoy myself at 9,406’! I felt very accomplished! I was able to go right up to the Wally Waldron tree, the 1,000+ year old limber pine that clings to the side of the slope, without my stomach doing flip flops.
Aside from the steep ascent and the hard work you need to do on this trail, the journey to the peak is quite enjoyable and scenic. There are great views the entire way and it doesn’t have many rocky or sketchy sections.
The summit of Mount Baden-Powell can also be approached from Islip Saddle and Dawson Saddle. It’s a much longer hike, although not as steep as the more traditional ascent from Vincent Gap. I think I’d like to try the longer approach sometime.
On the way down we past a couple of thru-hikers who had already come 18 miles and were just reaching the 1 mile marker up to the summit of Baden-Powell. Both of them were carrying 45 pound packs and were on their way to Little Jimmy Camp. We stopped and chatted with them for a while. It’s people like that who make you humble and also inspire you. They said they’d only been hiking now for 3 years, so maybe someday we’ll be able to do the same.
After we got back down the mountain, it was still pretty early so we decided to hike the Mine Gulch trail to check out Vincent’s Cabin. The cabin once belonged to Charles “Tom” Vincent who also discovered the Big Horn Mine that I described in our hike from last Sunday. He built the cabin himself and lived in it for many years. Some of his pots and pans and things are still there. It’s definitely worth the quick 1.36 mile side trip to view the cabin if you have enough steam left after Baden-Powell.
Big Horn Mine has been on my list of hikes to do, and Sunday was the perfect day to do it. We arrived at the trailhead at Vincent’s Gap plenty early. It was still dark and since this was a short 4 mile hike, I wanted to be able to enjoy the scenery and take some photos along the route. We waited until about 6:30 when dawn began to turn black skies to blue and began our trek. Some people parked on the opposite side of the parking lot fired up a grill and started cooking breakfast. The delicious smell of bacon in the air made my stomach grumble, but we had a mine to explore.
This hike starts out on an old wagon road that winds around Mount Baden-Powell. The last time I was here we had hiked up to the top of that mountain which stands at 9,406’. Today we were on the lower slopes, and I took some lovely photos of the moon up over the ridge. After about 200 yards in, we came to a split with two signs: Mine Gulch left and Big Horn Mine right. I later learned that taking the Mine Gulch trail would have taken us to Vincent’s Cabin. I’d like to check that out someday.
I should note a short bit of history about the mine: Big Horn Mine was discovered by Charles “Tom” Vincent in 1895. He lived in the log cabin that you can still visit today. The mine was profitable from 1903 to 1906. Eventually, it was tapped out and abandoned.
The trail to the mine is pretty easy as you wind along the mountain on the wagon road enjoying views from some of the tallest peaks in the range. However, as you get further along, the trail begins to narrow and sections become steep and rocky with loose gravel. Some areas were so narrow that there was only room to place one foot. Rather then give myself time to think about the plunging descent to my side, I chose to focus on moving forward and getting to our destination. In just a few moments the trail widened again, and soon the mine came into view just as the golden rays of morning sunshine were coming up over the San Gabriels.
Just one more sketchy scramble to get through to get up to the structure and we had arrived! No other hikers in sight yet, so we enjoyed exploring the outer structure and the views of the surrounding mountains. We did not go inside the mine. While you can crawl through some boards to get inside, it is not advised because the mine is deteriorating and subject to collapse.
After we were done exploring, we headed back the way we came. We veered off the main trail to do some quick exploring on a use trail that led us to what looked like the remains of another structure. Not sure what that was, but we eventually made our way back to the main trail and back to trailhead. As per usual, we stopped by the Grizzly Cafe for some delicious coffee and breakfast. Great hike today with a lot of history!